ATTENTION: CITY DESK/
Contact: Tom Capezzuto
Pesky Yellow Jackets Pose Serious Threat to School Children During
As children gather on
school playgrounds during lunch breaks and recess at the start of
the new school year, parents and teachers should help safeguard
them against the serious health hazards posed by yellow jackets.
The pesky seasonal yellow jackets, who hover everywhere in the fall,
often inflict stings suddenly that are not only painful but, in
some instances, may even be fatal to those who are allergic to them.
Yellow jackets are active
from late August until early November, when the first frost kills
If you wear brightly
colored clothing, hair spray or perfume and tote a fruit drink and
sandwich with you outdoors, watch how many of these curious critters
pay you an unexpected visit.
"Yellow jackets are members
of the wasp family and they exhibit unpredictable and aggressive
behavior," said Dr. Leonard Bielory, director of the Asthma and
Allergy Research Center at the University of Medicine and Dentistry
of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-New Jersey Medical School in Newark. "Their
sting is highly allergic to about one in every 200 people, and at
least 200 people die each year from wasp and bee stings. School
nurses should have an epinephrine kit available to treat a child
to prevent anaphylactic shock." Epinephrine, a hormone secreted
by the adrenal gland, relaxes constricted airways, preventing death
Even one sting from a
yellow jacket may trigger abdominal cramps, hives, hoarseness, shortness
of breath, difficulty swallowing or hypotension, a dramatic and
potentially fatal loss of blood pressure. "There is no way of knowing
if someone is allergic until they are stung," Dr. Bielory said.
Immunotherapy, or allergy
shots, can provide life-saving protection for those with severe
allergies to yellow jacket venom, Dr. Bielory said. "Immunotherapy
is a form of desensitization in
which the specific proteins that a person is allergic to are introduced
to the immune system in increasing doses that result in the immune
system's tolerance to the foreign protein."
To decrease the risk
of being stung during outdoor activities:
- Don't wear brightly
- Avoid using scented
soaps, perfume, cologne and hair spray, and use unscented deodorant.
- Cover your food and
drinks when outdoors and do not drink from open soda or juice
cans because yellow jackets tend to crawl inside open containers.
- Do not open car windows
for fresh air because bees are curious creatures who will fly
into an open window.
- Stay away from trash
containers at parks and ballfields because yellow jackets hang
around garbage incessantly. Toss your garbage into the container
and avoid putting your face and hands too close to the trash receptacles.
- Exercise caution
when cutting grass in the fall or raking leaves because yellow
jackets often burrow in the ground, especially near roots. If
you locate a nest in the ground, wait until it is dark and then
extinguish the nest by pouring ammonia into the opening.
- Keep an insect repellent
with you when engaging in any outdoor activities.
To arrange an interview
with Dr. Bielory, call Tom Capezzuto at (973) 972-7273.